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Willow Brook Studios

Willow Brook Studios is the realization of a unique collaboration.

Its founder, William James, began as a model and actor after graduating from an extensive 4-year Meisner training program. In 1998, he became co-owner of Take One Studios, a training and networking center in Beverly Hills and shortly thereafter began apprenticing as a teacher’s assistant for one of Hollywood’s well known acting coaches.

In his desire to further expand his knowledge and articulation of the craft of acting, William began to create his own cutting-edge techniques and founded Willow Brook Studios in 2005.

The studio’s goal is to build an ever-evolving environment through which actors, writers, directors, editors, etc. can develop greater skills while expanding their body of artistic work. WBS has always maintained the principle that acting, like any other performing art, must be mastered through diligence and process.

Our qualified staff has diverse backgrounds ranging in everything from actors, writers, models and voice over artists, to working with agents, managers, casting directors and executives at Warner Brothers. It is our firm belief that an acting studio should be much more than just a place of learning. It should behave more like a university and less like a Hollywood acting class by providing all the services an actor needs to learn their craft and enter into the industry with a solid business sense.

Our quest is to help each and every artist who collaborates with our studios to enjoy great success and fulfillment in their chosen field. Since 2005, Willow Brook Studios has evolved into a strategic planning and preparation facility, providing the education, tools, and creative support that inspires our growing network of forward thinking artists to create their own unique path to prosperity.

“It is my sincere intention to create an artistic space where the perfect blend of guts and grace reside.”            William James

William James: Founder, Director and Head Acting Coach

William James, founder and the Willow Brook Studios Head Acting Coach, is an accomplished teacher and articulator of the craft of acting. Coming from an extensive background in athletics and business, William never intended to pursue a life in performing arts. On the whim of his best friend, William attended an acting class based on the Meisner Technique...and the rest is history.

After graduating from the extensive 4-year Meisner training program, William became co-owner of Take One Studios in Beverly Hills. He continued to pursue the mastery of his art, apprenticing as a teacher’s assistant for one of Hollywood’s well known coaches. In his desire to further expand his knowledge and articulation of the craft of acting, William began to create his own cutting-edge techniques. He now uses his 20 years of acting and coaching experience to masterfully demonstrate and communicate what is possible through his own process of exploration.

William’s diverse background stretches far beyond his teaching and acting abilities. He expanded into writing, directing and producing as the head writer and co-owner of Cintopia Studios. Currently, William is the chief writing consultant for the television division of the Robb Entertainment Group. The extensive teaching training he received throughout his life, coupled with his successful business experience, marketing background, college athletics, psychology training, and communication skills, allow William to guide his students in a unique way.

Believing that having a successful acting career requires a diverse skill-set that extends far beyond craft, William instructs on many different levels. His coaching encompasses not only the craft of acting but also the business, psychology, and physiology of the actor. William’s process for preparation and discovery allows his actors and actresses to create their own dynamic and reliable technique through a varied series of explorations. These explorations known as “The Pathway”, are designed to develop a deep understanding of what each actor’s instrument is capable of and how to activate his or her own individual talent.

Michael Mapél: Producing Partner, Head of Production, Web Designer and Editor

Michael Mapél, Creative Executive for Willow Brook Studios, graduated from the theatrically prominent American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and after three intense years with the Academy, he began his lifelong journey into the world of entertainment.

After years of having a successful career in the theatre, he realized he knew nothing of television or film. Michael, always moving forward, believes that to know of something entirely, you must immerse yourself into your career of choice and learn on the job. So, putting his theatrical career on hold, he began with many production assistant jobs on several films and music videos. One of those films lead to an internship with Joel Silver at Silver Pictures, which lead to an assistant to several Creative Executives at Turner Pictures and finally settling into the position of Executive Assistant to Polly Cohen at Warner Brothers Studios. After several years with Warner Brothers, Michaels confidence in himself and his knowledge of the ins’ and out’s of how filming all begins, from conception of a script to the shooting of the project, gave him the courage to venture out on his own and return to his love of acting.

Within weeks of leaving Warner Brothers, Michael acquired an agent and filmed his first commercial. From this, he received his SAG card and national exposure. Bookings became steady after that with several student films, an Independent film, a music video, followed by a European commercial that was shot entirely in South Africa.

While the roles were coming, both commercially and theatrically, Michael wanted to learn more. Not one to sit around and wait for casting, Michael partnered with William James and Willow Brook Studios in developing a demo reel Production Company suited to the actor. Learning everything he could about editing, he has since been producing demo reels for such clients as The Brogan Agency and The Robb Company, while also editing for independent film companies as Cinetopia Studios and PEP Productions in both Los Angeles and Sherman Oaks.

To say Michael likes a challenge is an understatement. After becoming proficient in editing, he embarked on the discovery of Internet promotion. At the beginning of his acting career, there were no demo reels or Internet websites to help promote actors. There was the US Mail; a lot of headshot and resume mailing. So once again, Michael went “back to school”, of sorts, and learned everything he could about creating websites for the actor. Since then, Michael has become Creative Director, Editor and Web Designer for Willow Brook Studios. His wealth of knowledge and extensive experience has helped many actors reach their peak potential in career promotion.

Jennifer Cozza James: Producing Partner and Creative Executive

I just love this art.  I love actors, writers, directors, producers, designers, visual artists, musicians, engineers and creators of all types.   I love working on set with an inevitably talented and wonderful group of folks who, through combined efforts, are working to create something great.  Creating is wonderful. Actually, it’s better than that.  Telling a story--it’s the best day, the best moment, the best drug--the most exhilarating and challenging combination of focused concentration and absolute freedom I could ever hope for.  It’s a life outside the box of predictability.   It’s defining, through the clarifying experiences of contrast, in playing the doped out addict, the selfish mother, the grieving nurturer, the injured lover, the lovable ditz, the spy desperately trying to harness her fear, the hero who gets away with everything...making it look easy, who I really am.  

It’s a different perspective, understanding for a few moments the edges of being the protector, the guardian, the inspirer, the nurturer, the dangerous killer, the mysterious vixen, the tormented Queen, the Don Quixote and the Robin-Hood.   It’s the gratifying experience of telling the stories the way they should be told, where heroism wins, love conquers all, and the truth will out.  Where stupid rules can be broken, lost causes are worth fighting for, and hope springs eternal.  I love all of these ideas, and the layers and nuances which bring them to life.   And what I love most is that my perspective, the subtle differences in the way I shade meaning on independence, strength, sensitivity, fairness, determination, playfulness, hilarity, sensuality, total bad-ass-ness, mischievousness, warmth, passion, and inspiration are mine alone.  No one else will play the role exactly as I will play it--and it is that uniqueness that all actors possess which make each of us engrossing and captivating.  

I have always been an actress and an artist, and I just am what I am.  I have an MFA in Acting from the Professional Actors Training Program at University of Washington in Seattle, and a BA in English from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  I have worked on stage, in film, television, webisodes, music videos, shorts, features, and voiceover.  I consider myself a complete professional and I am confident and inspired to continue my work however it unfolds. 

†Disclaimer: Willow Brook Studios, Inc., including all of its contracted or hired employees and personnel, does not guarantee the procurement of work, casting, production, funding of projects, sale of written or produced projects and/or content. Willow Brook Studios, Inc., reserves the right to deny or revoke admittance to our academy at any time.